Have you Been Charged with False Swearing in Georgia?
Many people are unaware of the seriousness in taking an oath. The entire purpose of taking an oath is to ensure that the truth is revealed. When people do not tell the truth after taking an oath, then it is considered a crime called false swearing. However, countless people are wrongfully charged with false swearing. Maybe they thought they were testifying to the truth because they had the wrong information. No matter the situation, if you have been charged with false swearing, you need a Georgia False Swearing Attorney.
What is False Swearing in Georgia?
Under O.C.G.A. §16-10-71, a person who takes a lawful oath or affirmation commits false swearing when they knowingly and willfully make a false statement. False swearing also occurs when a person executes a document knowing the statement is false.
False swearing is similar to perjury. However, false swearing applies in situations outside of judicial proceedings. Perjury occurs when the false statement was made in a judicial proceeding.
The Court has extended the statute to include signed documents that purport to be an acknowledgment of a lawful oath. In some cases, false swearing can occur regardless of whether an oath had actually been administered by an official. According to Holland v. State, a person who executed a document with knowledge that his mere execution would “purport” to be or would evidence his “acknowledgement” that the statements contained therein were being made under lawful oath or affirmation can be held accountable for false swearing. 172 Ga. App. 444(1), (1984).
Georgia Case Law
The Court of Appeals of Georgia found sufficient evidence to convict John Thomas Finch of 25 counts of false swearing. Finch v. State, 326 Ga. App. 141, (2014). The e facts of the case revealed that Finch developed multiple parcels of real property that he sold to home buyers. As a part of the closing documents, Finch signed notarized affidavits stating that the materials used on the lots were paid for and that there was no outstanding debt on the property. However, in reality, numerous accounts for the materials used in building the properties had not been paid for. During the trial, Finch argued that since he did not raise his right hand to take an oath nor did the notary personally witness his signature, that he did not take a lawful oath. However, the Court found that Finch knew he was acknowledging a lawful oath when he signed the documents. Therefore, he was found guilty of 25 counts of false swearing.
Analysis of a False Swearing Case
There are multiple things that have to be proven for a person to be convicted of false swearing in Georgia.
There are three essential elements of false swearing
- Willfully, knowingly, and falsely swearing under oath
- On a matter as to which the party could legally be sworn
- The oath was administered by a person legally authorized to administer.
In addition, the State must prove that the accused had the intent to testify falsely and that they did in fact make false statements during their testimony. Spillers v. State, 299 Ga. App. 854, (2009).
Penalty for False Swearing in Georgia
A person convicted of false swearing in Georgia will be guilty of a felony. The consequences will be a fine up to $1,000, a prison term between one and five years, or both.
False Swearing Defenses
The subject was not one that I could legally be sworn: If the subject was not one that was required to be given under oath, then the accused cannot be guilty of false swearing.
The person giving the oath was not legally authorized: The person who gives the oath must have the legal authorization to give the oath. If they do not, then the defendant cannot be guilty of false swearing.
I did not know I was taking an oath: If you were reasonable in not knowing that you were under oath, then you may have been wrongfully charged. However you need a false swearing attorney in Georgia to assist with this argument.
The information I had made my testimony true at that time: If you testified or signed a document believing the information was the truth, even though it ended up being incorrect, then you will have a defense to false swearing. However, this can be a difficult argument to present to a judge. Contact one of our Georgia False Swearing Lawyers today for more information if this applies to your case.
What are not Defenses
I did not actually take the oath: Even if you don't physically raise your hand, you could still be guilty of false swearing. The Court will consider whether you signed a document “knowing” that your signing would serve as your acknowledgment of the statements included.
False swearing is a crime taken very seriously in Georgia. If you have been charged under this statute, you need an experienced Georgia False Swearing Attorney. Don't wait because every second counts. Our lawyers are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions about your case. Call now for a free case evaluation.